ALL SMILES FOR MWSS @ 140 CELEBRATION. Water industry leaders with former President Fidel V. Ramos and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar are all smiles after they ceremonially cut the ribbon for the world class gymnasium and cafeteria as part of the 140th founding anniversary of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Valentine’s Day. (L-R) Maynilad President Ramoncito S. Fernandez, MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco, FVR, DPWH Secretary Villar, MWSS Chairman Franklin J. Demonteverde, Manila Water President Fedinand M. de la Cruz and SMC Holdings Head Operations Group Edgar Dona.

Stressing that the present leaders of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) are doing a great job in their first year under President Duterte’s administration, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar congratulated MWSS Chairman Franklin J. Demonteverde and Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco for what MWSS has accomplished since its was established, most specially for what it has achieved in just a year to ensure clean, affordable and sustainable water for its 20 million customers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

In his speech, Villar spoke about the government’s build, build, build program for which from P8-9 trillion is being allocated for infrastructure funding over the next five years. Among the projects he mentioned were the railway systems and interisland bridges that would spur development in the provinces and decongest the metropolitan area.

Serving as guests of honor for the event were former President Fidel V. Ramos and Villar who officially represented President Rodrigo Duterte.

MWSS Administrator Velasco and Chairman Demonteverde led employees in welcoming guests from the water agency’s three concessionaires: Manila Water, Maynilad and Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation; former MWSS officials; and dignitaries during the launching of the MWSS coffee table book From Carriedo to Balara: Celebrating 140 Years of MWSS and Ensuring Water Security at the new world class MWSS Multi-Purpose Hall which was blessed and formally inaugurated along with the new cafeteria and the presentation of the Palafox Master Plan for the MWSS Water Eco Tourism Hub. The commemorative book, authored and published by Media Touchstone Ventures, Inc. president Melandrew Velasco,  was among the major highlights of the MWSS 140th anniversary celebration.

In his welcome remarks, Velasco recalled that the 140th anniversary celebration coincides with his first anniversary at the helm of the water agency. “What a year it has been after being plucked out from retirement to serve this great water institution under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte,” he said.

Velasco acknowledged the presence of Ramos, the acknowledged father of the MWSS privatization. The successful Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is now 20 years old and is being replicated in other parts of the country and in countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

Aside from the book launch, other activities for the 140th anniversary celebration included the unveiling of the MWSS multi-purpose gymnasium and cafeteria markers, presentation of water eco-tourism masterplan, and the presentation of the MWSS/Concessionaries flagship projects.

Velasco thanked the concessionaires Manila Water, Maynilad and Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation represented by President & CEO Ferdinand Dela Cruz, President & CEO Ramoncito Fernandez and Engr. Edgar Dona, respectively.

The gymnasium and cafeteria are anniversary gifts of Maynilad and Manila Water to MWSS which according to Velasco are “done anchored on Corporate Social Responsibility and in the spirit unity, solidarity and teamwork or UST to borrow FVR’s credo of nation building.”

The two concessionaires also funded the MWSS water eco-tourism hub whose masterplan was developed by world-famous Architect Felino Palafox, Jr.  The transformation of the old Balara pic grove into a modern water eco-tourism hub will make it environmentally compliant. “This grand plan also jibes with our vision to build a water and environment institute to better serve the present and future generations,” Velasco stated.

Five flagship water infrastructure projects were presented during the occasion: the Rizal Province Water Supply Improvement Project; Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project, New Centennial Water Soure/Kaliwa Dam, Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project Tunnel No. 4, and the Paranaque Water Reclamation Project.

The water infrastructure projects that are ongoing and in the pipeline are in support of the build, build, build policy of the Duterte administration. Preparations are underway for the bidding of the Kaliwa Dam that will add 600 MLD to the supply of Metro Manila. “This will be under ODA from China as an offshoot of the bilateral agreement between the Philippines and China during the state visit of President Duterte in October 2016,” Villar said.

According to MWSS Chairman Demonteverde, the anniversary celebration “as well as the inauguration of various projects to include the launching of the milestone commemorative book, speaks well of my advocacy here at MWSS – to create an atmosphere of unity and teamwork as One Big Happy MWSS family among our employees together with the concessionaires and other stakeholders.”